He was a television news legend who traveled to more places than anyone had ever dreamed, but on Thursday Morley Safer died at the age of 84.
To the world, he was part of everyone’s Sunday night, and the 60 Minutes family, but in the town of Chester, where Safer lived with his wife, he was simply Morley.
Chester is a small town, with only about 4,000 people, and Safer was very much a local celebrity.
He was also the town resident who ate at local restaurants, bought his meats at the local butcher, and drove around town in a red pick-up truck.
"He was kind of a regular guy -- always friendly,” said Jonathan Rapp, owner of River Tavern, which is a popular spot in the middle of town.
The tavern opened 15 years ago and got a boost from Morley Safer, who was one of the original investors.
"Morley was incredibly generous and he was a fixture of the River Tavern for the last 15 years,” Rapp said.
Safer lived in Chester with his wife Jane, and some say he has been a resident since the mid-1980s.
"Very down to earth, just as normal as anybody,” said Scott Ward, of Cliff’s Quality Meats.
Safer signed one of his books for Scott Ward and his father, who owns their family business. They said Safer liked home cooking.
“Down to earth cooking. Stews, pot roasts...stuff that he doesn't get out in restaurants--he was always tired of restaurants when he was home,” Ward said.
He also liked fancy cars, and used to bring his Ferrari to Ted Tine for a spring tune-up, but he wasn’t exactly a race car driver.
"He was like driving a 1935 Dodge or something--- he would just putt right down the road and take him about five minutes to pass the window here,” said Tine, who is a local car mechanic.
He was also a member of Congregation Beth Shalom, and past President Lary Bloom said Safer always had wonderful stories to tell, but one of the things that surprised some at the temple was that he didn’t really like being in front of the camera.
"He also did a special presentation for us --- we did a thing called ‘60 Minutes with Morley Safer’ a few years ago and I interviewed him. And put him in the hot seat -- in the way he wasn't used to. And I remember being surprised he was a little nervous about it. I went over to his house and we talked about it and he said listen I am not usually in the position,” Bloom said.
Many described Safer as a regular guy who enjoyed spending time in a small town, and he loved gardening.
Residents said while he is gone, he will always be a part of the town.
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